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ADDdinners: Shortcuts in the Kitchen for Women with ADHD

Posted on July 21, 2017



This is an article I wrote back when my kids were teens but it has some great tips for moms still cooking for children at home (and for themselves as well!). 

When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing that pops into your head?

1. “Am I late for work”?

2. “Are the kids going to make it to the bus on time”?

3. “Where am I”?

If you answered 1, 2 or 3, then you are not a kitchen phobic.

I am one of many ADD women whose nightmares begin upon awakening, rather than during the wee hours of the night. For the first thought that comes into MY mind when my eyes open at 6:45 am is….


The thought alone is enough to make me want to reach for a Xanax. But no, I decide to fight the urge and face the fear.

The first 20 years of my marriage produced meals that were at least consistent- daily potluck surprise, I called them. Throw something in a pot, and be surprised if it came out tasty enough to pass the lips of a living soul. Dogs and cats were excluded, of course.

I don’t know why people bothered to give me those beautiful Corningware casserole dishes for my wedding shower way back then, when an ashtray would have been more appropriate.

In my 21st year of marriage, I decided it was time to conquer my kitchen phobia head on.  Collecting cookbooks became my newest addiction, and they soon piled up on my kitchen counter. They made my kitchen look homey. They also remained unopened, unstained.  And they didn’t solve the age old question that haunted me for so many years:


Let’s face it. For an ADD woman, procrastination and distractibility are often issues that are faced on a daily basis. We hate to be bored and dislike chores that are repetitive. If meatloaf is the only dish that comes out of the oven looking like it’s supposed to, no cook is going to want to repeat that meal day after day. Throw in a couple of ADD kids who are fussy eaters, and you’ve really got a problem on your hands.

So in my 21st year of marriage, I came up with some solutions. My favorite was to stop cooking. That may or may not work for you, depending on whether your budget will allow you to eat or carry out every night. That resulted in daughter number one  learning how to fend for herself…until even she got sick of frozen pot pies and Scooby Do Dinners.

Since neither of those were long term options in my case, I came up with some solutions to help beat my kitchen phobia.

Plan ahead

Ugh, the ugly “P” word. It goes against every grain of my ADD body. But believe it or not, it really does work once you get into the swing of it.

I’ve since developed my “POS” (Plan Or Starve) Cards , as I fondly call them. For every day of the week, I have an index card with a full menu on it. By menu, that means there is one home made course- the main dish- and ready made side dishes. If you are like me, then preparing just one part of a meal is enough to feel like an accomplished cook.

My cards, then, look like this:

MONDAY: Meatloaf, frozen peas, mashed potatoes from a box, bagged salad

TUESDAY: Roast Chicken, canned string beans, bagged salad….and so on.

In addition to the M-F cards, (no cooking for me on Saturday or Sunday-those days are sacred) I also add a couple of Jokers (wild cards). These consist of two choices: take out, or a *really* quick and easy recipe, like cooked pasta with bottled spaghetti sauce. Or tuna on toast, topped with cheese. You get the picture.

Now, I am not beyond cheating. Not by any means. So, if I find that on a particular Monday, I will be arriving home late from a meeting, I ditch the Monday card for my wild card, which in that case, usually means stopping at a fast food restaurant to pick up burgers.

This “POS” card method solves one of the biggest kitchen phobia symptoms that I happen to suffer from- making decisions. Once that particular anxiety is out of my mind, all I have to do is to remember to have the ingredients on hand. Another “P” issue.

Self Acceptance

Why is it that some people are able to grocery shop one day a week and have an entire 7 day’s worth of menus all set to go? That is truly beyond me. So, I’ve learned to compensate and accept the fact that I will always be the type of person who will have to run to the store at least 4 days out of the week, in order to pick up ingredients for that day’s dinner.


I was blessed with a daughter who is comfortable in the kitchen. I was doubly blessed with a husband who cannot differentiate between the textures of shoe leather and pot roast.  So, when I’m in no mood to cook, I let my teenager fix her own dinner and let my husband fend for himself. Eating tuna out of a can never killed anyone, and besides, he likes to reminisce about his bachelor days at times. If I’m really lucky, there’s enough leftovers from my daughter’s culinary experiment to feed her younger sister.

The lesson here? Let go of your internalized expectations of needing to have a hot cooked meal on the table every night. Not only will you teach your children to become more resourceful, your husband will then pay you a million compliments the next time you follow a recipe from the back of a Campbell’s soup can.

Easy Cooking

You may have noticed that I only gave two examples of meals on my POS cards. That’s because I’ve kept the best secret for last. It’s a strategy that isn’t quite cooking and isn’t quite carry out, but it is one of my favorite tricks, aside from eating out. You can add these ideas to your wild cards for those days where you don’t want to or don’t have time to cook.

Easy cooking entails finding ready made foods at the market that look as if you’ve spent a couple of hours over a hot microwave…er….stove. I promise you that if you take the time one day to really study what is offered in your local supermarket, you will be shocked and pleased to see all the possibilities.

One of my favorites is the frozen bag that contains “everything” you need for a full meal: chicken, vegetables, and if you’re really lucky, a starch like rice or noodles. VOILE!. Buy two bags and dinner’s on the table. You can even get away without adding a salad.

Some other ideas-

* Check out the deli section for cooked chickens, ribs, etc. Grab a ready made container of potato salad or coleslaw, and you’re set.

* Scour the ethnic foods section- a great meal can be made from pita bread, hummus spread and canned soup.

* Buy large quantities of a frozen side dish you like, and make that the main dish. Instead of one box of mac and cheese, buy four. Add a salad or cut veggies and you’re set.

Break The Rules

Since when does making dinner mean having a meat, starch and veggie…every day?

Here are some ideas that will make your kids’ friends drool with envy:

* Serve breakfast for dinner. Scramble some eggs, toss a couple slices of American cheese on top- or sliced hot dogs- and dinner is ready in minutes.

* Have an appetizer dinner: buy cocktail hotdogs in a crust (in the freezer department), tator tots and if you’re really feeling adventurous, slice some fruit and thread them onto skewers.

* Make mish mosh: Pull out everything in your fridge that is one day away from turning green, and throw together into a surprise meal. There’s no reason why you can’t have a plate of cold cuts with left over soup and re-heated veggies from the night before. Be bold!

Nobody said that dinners have to be fancy. In my house, the sole purpose of a cooked meal is to fill hungry stomachs. Anything more is icing on the cake.

Remember, no one is going to suffer from your cooking shortcut methods. I truly believe that once we, as ADD women, give up the pressure of having to “perform” in the kitchen, we’ll end up actually enjoying our time there.

Now…pass the menu, please!

How about you? What kitchen/cooking tips work for you? Please share in the Comment section below.

Why Vacations Make Us Crazy

Posted on July 10, 2017



July 4th weekend.  Everyone seems to look forward to it; time off work, family gatherings, good food. To me, it’s truly the kick off to summer and typically, I enjoy having long quiet days to enjoy being with my family and friends.

This year, the holiday was longer than usual, as it landed on a Tuesday, making for a shorter work week. But instead of enjoying the free time, I found myself feeling irritable and well…unsettled.

It got me to thinking about past summers and why I think I have a tough time with holidays, vacations and the unstructured days that go with them. Bingo! “Unstructured” being the operative word. Those of us with ADHD or with family members who have ADHD, know that what we need most is pretty much the opposite: structure!

In analyzing why the long weekend was almost as stressful as a regular work week, I came up with the following reasons:

  1. My sleep habits shifted- staying up too late and sleeping in too late.
  1. Eating habits changed. Sleeping in meant eating a later breakfast, which then interfered with the entire day’s meal schedule. Dinner was often late at night, thus disturbing my sleep. 
  1. Without a work schedule to keep me on task all day, my free time was disorienting. For most people, this time off would be considered a true vacation. For me and others with ADHD, it can become confusing and upsetting.
  1. Family, who I love beyond words, were in from out of town. Having house guests, even if they are family, are triggers for me, as it pushes me out of my regular routine. Whereas I’m often using the computer late at night, working or researching, my office was used as a temporary guest room. Again, a change in my normal schedule threw me off.
  1. I don’t exactly hide the fact that I don’t do much cooking or entertaining. It’s beyond the scope of coping with my brand of ADHD. To me, even ordering in Chinese food is a major accomplishment when entertaining friends or house guests. This year, I bit the bullet and hosted a BBQ for 7. Even with the help of my family, I was still stressed. There was food to purchase, the house to clean/declutter, prepping, cooking, serving, and of course, the dreaded cleanup. This is fun? Not for me.


What should have been a free, relaxing holiday week was anything but that. Why? Because my routine was interrupted.


I’ve heard from countless adults with ADHD who have shared the same exasperations. The family vacation they look forward to ends up being a disaster. Children are unruly, unhappy and worse. Adults become irritable, angry and bored.

It’s important to “see it coming.” If you have a change in your routine coming up, whether it’s a family vacation, children being home from school with too much free time; family reunions or any other disruptions, note to yourself how you’ve felt in the past under these kinds of conditions.

Do you get overwhelmed? Bored? Short fused? Do your children with ADHD exhibit more behavioral problems? Are they more demanding and irritable?

Take your summer “temperature” and become aware of how free time can affect you and yours and determine what steps you can take in order to make this a positive experience instead of a stressful one.

Don’t accept that free time or vacation time always translates into fun time. Take your family’s ADHD into consideration well before that long holiday weekend or vacation time comes up, and use strategies to make things work for you and your ADHD.

How do you manage your summers when the days are long and schedules change? Please share in the comment section below.

Your ADHD Journey- Finding the Help you Need and Deserve

Posted on June 26, 2017



I remember when I first suspected that I might have ADHD. It was after reading a few books on how to help children with ADHD (I was looking for information to help my daughter), when I came across what, at that time- back in the early 1990s – was the only book out on adult ADHD… back when Amazon was known only as a rainforest. I think it was written by Dr. Paul Wender. Boy, what an eye opener that book was for me.

I was hungry for more but had to wait a few more years until people started becoming aware that ADHD existed in not just children, but in adults, too.

Then along came Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo’s, “You Mean I’m not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!” which just blew me away. I followed that up with Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey’s, “Driven to Distraction” (‘OMG- I’m not the only one’) and finally- and most importantly – Sari Solden’s “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder” (‘She’s writing about ME!).

Honestly, reading those books changed my life. I began to get involved in support groups locally and volunteering my time to national ADD organizations ( and

The rest is history. I wrote my own two books, “Survival Tips for Women with ADHD” and the award winning book, “The Queen of Distraction”. I’d found my muse. My calling.

You can find lots of excellent books on adult ADHD at Amazon HERE.

And books specific to women with ADHD HERE.

And…books on how to de-clutter and get organized HERE.

I’ve been working in the field for over 20 years now and what I’m most surprised about- after all these years- is how difficult it still is for adults with ADHD to find the help they need.

Here are some tips:


  1. Read. Just like I did. Then read some more.

  2. Visit GOOD websites, not hokus pokus ones that have no scientific or solid clinical basis to them. Start with mine!

  3. Go to support groups. You can find one local to you at CHADD’s website ( )

  4. Go to workshops, meetings, conferences. The next large ADHD conference- CHADD’s and ADDA’s is this coming November in Atlanta, GA. Start saving now- it will be worth every penny. Plus, I’ll be presenting on women’s issues and I would love to meet you in person! Details at

  5. If you think you might have ADHD, get evaluated by a mental health professional ** WHO UNDERSTANDS ADULT ADHD!! **  Search my directory for names, HERE.  **

  6. Get the appropriate treatment. This can include counseling, medication, working with an ADD coach and a professional organizer. 

Did you know I run a number of Facebook groups for adults with ADHD? Here are some of them:



There’s more, of course, like finding people like you, who celebrate you for who you are and staying away from toxic people who enjoy bringing you down.

What has been the best thing for you in understanding and accepting your own ADHD? Please share in the comment section, below.




Where’s Your ADHD Happy Place?

Posted on June 10, 2017



By the time you read this, I will be back from my mini vacation to NYC, also known as my happy place. You’d think an inattentive ADHD woman (me!!) would hate the noise and the intensity, but I love this city. I can go crazy ADD-wise and not have to fight it. For example, I can go to one part of the city to look at art galleries, then hop on the subway and head to Greenwich Village to sit and people watch at a little café’. I can move on to Central Park and stroll around for a bit before heading to a show on Broadway. This city was MADE for people with ADHD!

This is an example of going “with” your ADD instead of fighting it. I think most people who come to NY have an agenda – Broadway tickets are purchased well in advance. There’s usually an itinerary that goes something like:



Breakfast at Juniors

Boat tour to Statue of Liberty

Lunch at The French Cafe’

Walking tour of Greenwich Village

Dinner at Tavern on the Green

Broadway show 8pm Palace Theatre.


Na uh. Not me. I love my freedom and love how things just happen. Then again, it can backfire. If I decide at the last minute that I’d like to see a play, well…good luck with that (though there are ways around it if you research this).

Sometimes we just have to let things go and see where things fall. It’s inherent in our neurology to have major difficulties with planning and executing those plans. Maybe we need to accept that part of us a bit more… as long as we don’t forget to take our suitcase when we leave on vacation. Oh, and the boarding pass. And hotel reservations. And…..

How about you? Are you able to ever go with the flow with your ADD? What can you ease up on? What tips can you share that have worked for you? Please share in the Comment section, below.



ADHD and Negative Self-Talk

Posted on May 28, 2017



Last week was my birthday (woo woo). I love birthdays, as long as I don’t think too much about how old I’m getting.

Every year I have a flashback of the day I turned 7 years old. May 23. It was the one day I felt very very special. I remember getting dressed for school, eating breakfast, and waiting…waiting waiting waiting…for my mother to wish me Happy Birthday. I choked down my Cocoa Krispies, then headed for the door to leave. Still waiting. Walking slowly.

As I opened the door to leave, I couldn’t contain myself. Turning to my mother, I burst out in tears and wailed:


My mother felt terrible and apologized left and right, reassuring me that even though it slipped her mind, she still loved me.

As adults with ADHD, even very important things can slip our minds. Anniversaries. Calling people we care about. Thank- you notes. Buying milk at the market when that’s why we went there in the first place. And we get angry with ourselves. We silently call ourselves horrible names. Stupid. Careless. Idiot. I’m sure my mother was thinking of words along those lines that May 23 many years ago.

It’s not bad enough that many of us hear or sense negative comments from others; we have to continually blast ourselves with even worse words.

I think it’s time to stop that. We certainly don’t forget the milk on purpose. Or wishing someone Happy Birthday. We don’t choose to hurt people.

Are you ready to tuck that negative self- talk away? If not, why not? How is it serving you?

I’d love to read your thoughts on this. Just post them via the Comment section below.


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Terry Matlen’s Top 10 ADHD Myth Busters (Updated May, 2017)

Posted on May 15, 2017

Terry ADHD MythBuster 2


It takes a lot to get me angry. Some of the more minor offenses are:

  • When someone wants to talk to me before 9am. Ok….10am!
  • Finding raisins in my food
  • Itchy clothes, perfume, loud TVs, sticky floors

And then there are the major offenses, which are obvious if you know me or have been reading my newsletters over the last 20 years. These include:

  • Children with special needs not getting an appropriate education; special needs adults getting crappy jobs because of stereotypical low expectations
  • Bullying
  • Unequal rights

You get the picture.

But last week in 2015, an article appeared in Psychology Today, which really riled me up. It’s titled No, There Is no Such Thing as ADHD, written by an M.D who blogs for the magazine. Which of course, gives him a lot of credibility. Even though he’s dead wrong.

Facebook was all aflutter over this (and sadly, I continue to see this junk article re-cycled and re-posted on social media). Fellow ADHD Myth Busters like me are still screaming at the top of our lungs. Some of us posted comments on the site back then, only to have them taken down (yes, I’m a rebel and get FURIOUS when I read such unscientific pablum).

So, to sooth my irritability and hoping this gets some attention too (as they say the truth rises to the top), here is my list of common myths that I work hard to debunk. Please feel free to share, especially to those who believe ADHD is a made up condition.


 Terry Matlen’s Top 10 ADHD Myth Busters


1. Myth: ADHD is not a real disorder.

Fact:  The American Psychiatric Society, The Centers for Disease Control, The National Institute of Health and basically all of the scientific organizations and government health agencies recognize ADHD as a true medical disorder. It is listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) which is the official mental health “bible” used by mental health professionals to diagnose psychiatric and other brain disorders.


2. Myth: Children outgrow their ADHD.

Fact: The great majority of children with ADHD continue to exhibit symptoms of ADHD into adulthood. More than 70% continue to have symptoms of ADHD into adolescence and at least 50% will continue to have it as adults, though many clinicians feel this estimate is low.


3. Myth: All people with ADHD are hyperactive and/or impulsive.

Fact: There are three subtypes of ADHD: a) hyperactivity/impulsivity b) inattentive c) combined. The inattentive subtype typically does not include hyperactivity/impulsivity. (note: the latest DSM no longer breaks these down into subtypes, but clinicians often refer to them this way)


4. Myth: Medications used for ADHD (stimulants) are highly addictive.

Fact: When used as directed, stimulants are very safe to use in both children and adults. In fact, studies are finding that those diagnosed with ADHD who are not being appropriately treated with medications, often self-medicate using substances that can be addicting.


5. Myth: ADHD is caused by poor or inconsistent parenting.

Fact:  ADHD is a neurobiological condition, often inherited. Parenting children with ADHD can be very challenging, causing much guilt for parents who are unsure how to best handle children who are hyperactive and impulsive. But parenting styles do not cause ADHD.


6. Myth: Sugar causes hyperactivity.

Fact: Earlier studies have debunked that myth, showing that children who seem to become more hyperactive while consuming a lot of sugar are often at parties and at other activities that stimulate them and their activity level. However, there is a small sub-set of children, approximately 1-3% that do seem to have food additive sensitivities.


7. Myth: Children and adults with ADHD have lower IQs.

Fact: People with ADHD do not have lower (or higher) IQs than the general public.


8. Myth: Children with ADHD are over-medicated.

Fact: Though more children are taking stimulants for ADHD than before, researchers believe this is due to clinicians identifying more children with ADHD who have been missed in previous years. In addition, it’s only been in recent years that more girls have been identified as having ADHD and thus receiving treatment for it.


9. Myth: There are fewer girls with ADHD and they are less impaired than boys with ADHD.

Fact: It’s believed that there are as many girls with ADHD as boys, but that they are less frequently identified and treated. Studies show that in some areas, girls with ADHD are more impaired than their male counterparts, in that in addition to their ADHD, they also more likely to struggle with substance abuse, anxiety and panic. Compared to non-ADHD girls, they have an increase in mood and conduct disorders and are more impaired in family, social and school functioning.


10. Myth: ADHD can be cured.

Fact: At this time, there is no cure for ADHD, but it can be well managed through a combination of medication, therapy, coaching, support and education.

What have YOU heard about ADHD that makes you want to scream and land a punch or two? Share your experiences in the Comment section below.



Cut the Book Clutter with an eReader- Here’s My Favorite!

Posted on May 10, 2017



I love to read but I’m starting to hate dealing with piles of books. So guess what I’m doing? I’m donating a huge chunk of my collection to the local library and am now reading on a Kindle Paperwhite.

I never thought I’d ever like using an eReader- I love the smell and feel of a book. But I’m now in love with my new Paperwhite. Why?

  • No more books gathering dust
  • I can read in bed and not disturb my hubby
  • I can store tons and tons of books
  • I can look up words
  • I can read outside in bright sunshine- no glare!
  • eBooks are usually less expensive than paper books
  • It’s lightweight

           I’m in looooove!

Great for Mother’s Day, Graduation, or just because. 

Check them out HERE


Want something more than an eReader?  

Check out Amazon’s Fire Tablet. Besides reading books, you can watch movies, TV, listen to music, and much more.
Check out the Fire Tablets

NEW! Ask Me Anything About ADHD (and I will answer you!)

Posted on May 04, 2017




I am announcing a new service to help YOU with your ADHD related questions.

I’m known as the Queen of Distraction and now I’m available to answer your ADHD related question right now- via email within 24-72 hours- when you don’t have time to wait 3 weeks (or longer) for an appointment.

Get direct access to me and everything I know for a low introductory fee.

Learn more at


terry signature

Chasing Kites: New Book by Tom Nardone

Posted on April 29, 2017

I just read Tom Nardone’s new book,Chasing Kites: A Memoir About Growing Up With ADHD.” Just when you think you know a lot about your own field (ADHD), a book like this comes along. I gained another 20 years of experience just reading Tom’s candid and honest reflection of his personal struggles, starting with his earliest childhood years of being bullied and taunted, to finding his niche’ (temporarily) in the service, to his struggles in finding the right job for him, and finally finding the woman of his dreams. I urge all of you to pick up this book and follow Tom’s journey. You will not forget it. And you certainly will learn from it.

Check it out HERE.  

It’s Spring! Let’s Get Organized!

Posted on April 27, 2017

There’s something in the air and it’s not Superman, but you can *feel* like Superman by making that first step in getting your home/office in order by starting your spring cleaning. I’m not asking you to clear out your entire house- let’s be realistic. We have ADHD. If we get through one closet, that is progress!

I have my eye on the paper shredder below. My biggest clutter problem is paper related and it’s time to be more careful about personal information finding it’s way into the trash. Ready to de-clutter with me? Check these great items from Amazon- some are on sale if you act quickly.